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A true gentleman and a life well lived

January 2024

It is with great sadness that the Forsyth family announces the passing of Colonel (Ret’d) James Charles Forsyth, CStJ, CD, CA, on 11 January 2024, at the age of 85.

Born in Hamilton on 1 June 1938, the son of the late Maurice & Lillian (Denver) Forsyth. James was a graduate of Central Secondary School in Hamilton and the Institute of Chartered Accountants.  While at Central, he served 5 years with 2401 Central Secondary School Cadet Corps in Hamilton, then joined the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps (Militia) in 1957 as an Officer Cadet.  Throughout an impressive 50-year career in the Canadian Militia, he served as Officer Commanding of 133 Company RCASC, Commanding Officer of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (RHLI), Commanding officer of 23 (Hamilton) Service Battalion and the Commander of the Hamilton Militia District (HMD).  In between commands, he served in various appointments with Central Milita Area Headquarters, HMD and National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa.  His final appointment was as the Honorary Colonel (HCol) of the RHLI, retaining that appointment until 2007, after 14 years.  

As HCol, James was a tireless campaigner for the RHLI, both in Canada and overseas on numerous regimental trips to France, Holland and Belgium for World War II memorial functions.  He was also a member of the Dieppe Veterans’ Memorial Park committee, leading to the construction and dedication of a long-overdue monument that pays tribute to veterans of The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry and other Hamilton area veterans who participated in the raid on Dieppe, France in August 1942.  The monument was dedicated in August 2003.

Career highlights from his Militia service include being called out to assist civilian authorities in the search for 10-year-old Marianne Schuett in 1967, the blizzard of 1977 and being invited to have dinner at Buckingham Palace with His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Colonel-in-Chief of the RHLI.

In civilian life, James was a Chartered Accountant with the Ontario Ministry of Revenue for 33 years, working out of the Hamilton and Mississauga offices.

He also kept active with volunteer and community service work with St. John Ambulance (Burlington Branch), the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires (Hamilton Division), the Army Cadet League of Canada (Ontario), the Hospitaller Order of St. John (Hamilton Commandery), the XIIIth Regiment Foundation and Reserves 2000, an army reserve lobby group.

A resident of Burlington for 57 years, he is survived by his wife of 62 years, Gwen, their two sons, Bruce and David, daughter-in-law Shannon, brother Doug, sister-in-law Toni, grandchildren Anastasia, Thomas and Maggie and nieces and nephews.

He will be remembered as a true gentleman, kind, loving and generous friend, and dedicated family man. He will be missed dearly.

James has been cremated and a private family internment will follow in the spring. 

For those who wish, donations to the XIIIth Regiment Foundation would be appreciated by the family.

The family wishes to thank the staff at Joesph Brant who took great care of him in his final days.

Goodbye Dad. I love you and I will miss you. I will take care of Mom, so don’t worry about her.

See you in the mess at the armouries in the sky.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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